I have a secret. I am scared. As the countdown to Springer shrinks, I find the dream becoming reality. With all the excitement also comes fear. My longest backpacking trip was only 6 days. What will I think about backpacking for 5 months? What if my food is stolen by a bear? What if I twist my ankle? What if it rains for 5 days straight?
Previous thru-hikers have told me over and over again: “The hardest part about the Appalachian Trail is not physical.. it’s mental”. I have a 1-way ticket on a mental roller-coaster. I hope that I’m ready.
My mediation teacher shared this tale with me. I will remember this grounded farmer when the trail gets rough.
A farmer and his son had a beloved stallion who helped the family earn a living. One day, the horse ran away and their neighbors exclaimed, “Your horse ran away, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
A few days later, the horse returned home, leading a few wild mares back to the farm as well. The neighbors shouted out, “Your horse has returned, and brought several horses home with him. What great luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
Later that week, the farmer’s son was trying to tame one of the mares and she threw him to the ground, breaking his leg. The villagers cried, “Your son broke his leg, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
A few weeks later, soldiers from the national army marched through town, recruiting all the able-bodied boys for the army. They did not take the farmer’s son, still recovering from his injury. Friends shouted, “Your boy is spared, what tremendous luck!” To which the farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
No event, in and of itself, can truly be judged as good or bad, lucky or unlucky, fortunate or unfortunate. Only time will tell the whole story. Look hard for the silver lining in the storm. Yes. Bad things will happen. I hope I have the willpower to wipe away tears, smile and say “We’ll See”.